Flying cars turned heads at the Geneva International Motor Show, with Dutch company Pal-V unveiling a production model that has already sold nearly 100 units, the first of which should be delivered in 2020. Goodyear got in on the act too, presenting a hybrid tyre that can operate as a standard tyre on the road and as a propeller for airborne travel.
Photo credits: Pal-V flying car/Eslivb/Wikimedia Commons
There were few innovations that made as big an impression at this year’s Geneva International Motor Show than the flying cars on display. Pal-V, which has been working on their design for the last 20 years, is among the pioneers in the segment. “We’ve made several contacts and have seen a few potential customers who’ve been following us for a long time,” said Robert Dingemanse, the Dutch company’s CEO and founder, speaking to BFMTV. Meanwhile, US tyre manufacturer Goodyear took the opportunity to unveil a tyre especially designed for flying vehicles.
Flying in 2020?
Liberty Pioneer Edition is the name of the production model showcased by Pal-V in Geneva and is currently awaiting aviation safety certification. Nearly 100 of the flying vehicles have been sold to date and are expected to make their appearance in the air in 2020. The first buyers, who had no hesitation in paying 500,000 euros for the privilege, will be given training leading to the award of a basic pilot’s licence. The Dutch police have also expressed an interest in the technology.
“The flying car will be a hugely important form of transport in the coming years, but it’s going to take time,” explained Dingemanse. “A lot of other companies have presented concepts, but it’ll be another ten years before they reach the market.” Mercedes, Aston Martin, Audi and Airbus figure among those companies. Unlike Pal-V, however, they have not launched a production model this year.
Tyres for flying
Another much-commented innovation at the Geneva Motor Show was the tyre Goodyear has designed for flying vehicles. Made without rubber, the Aero is a two-in-one tyre that can operate on the road and also flip upwards and act as a propeller thanks to bladed spokes, enabling the vehicle to take off vertically. “The volume of traffic is growing in big cities but there’s still space in the air,” said Goodyear designer Sebastien Fontaine. “As a tyre manufacturer, we want to offer a solution: how to make tyres fly in a relatively simple way, so that vehicles can run on the road and then take off without the need for any special infrastructures.”
Some experts in the field are a little sceptical about Goodyear’s concept, however, among them Laurent Meillaud, an automotive journalist specialising in new technologies. “I honestly feel this is a real micro niche,” he said. “Airspace is highly regulated, with the exception of a few countries where there is space or where flying vehicles wouldn’t pose a problem. There are maybe some applications for police and surveillance operations and even flying taxis, but it’s still a very tiny market all the same.”
Cover photo credits: Pal-V flying car/PAL-V Europe NV/Wikimedia Commons
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